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NIF Registry

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What is the NIF Registry?

The NIF Registry, a core resource of NIF, is a catalog of electronic resources that have been selected by NIF curators, or contributed by the community, as valuable tools for researchers and students in the field of neuroscience. The NIF Registry contains a listing of a variety of resources including databases, software tools, brain atlases, granting agencies, tissue banks, and many others. This list of resources is being continuously added to and updated by NIF's staff, affiliates, and people who recommend their resources to NIF.

The NIF Registry uses NIF vocabularies to provide high level descriptions of the nature of the resource and its contents.  However,  unless the resource is a database or data set and has registered with the NIF data integration tools, the NIF Registry does not search the contents of these databases directly. For example, searching for global key words such as "genes" or "tissue bank" will bring up the various resources that have those descriptors, whereas "GRM1" or " C57BL/6J-rcw3J/J" will not bring up results, as the specific gene name or strain names are not tagged for each resource. The NIF Registry is a place where there is a list of Alzheimer's disease tissue banks, but it will not tell the user which types of tissues are found in each tissue bank. This type of “drill down” search is provided for a subset of databases through NIF's Data Federation.

What resources are included in the NIF Registry?

The NIF Registry is not exclusive to any one type of resource. Rather, it contains a myriad of resources that are deemed valuable to the neuroscience community. Most of these are freely available on the Web, although some are restricted to a small community of users due to commercial interests, or laws governing the sharing of sensitive data. We are relying on feedback from the community as to what types of resources they would like to see. For example, would you like to see more commercial resources? Should we be including well known general resources such as GenBank and NCBI? Should we be listing journals and scientific organizations? We also have set up a Wiki page for commenting on our curation policies. The rule of thumb that NIF staff tend to have is that if the resource is conceivably useful to some neuroscientists, then it should be included.

Two classes of resources generally not included in the NIF Registry are electronic journals and commercial products. In general, NIF is not yet ready to include journals and commercial sites, although exceptions have been made in both cases. Journals are already searched in the Literature section, so providing additional access to them seems redundant unless there is some specific reason for doing so, such as a database of supplemental materials published in the journal. Literature searches typically do not search these types of materials adequately, and so they are valuable additions to the NIF. We have not yet created a list of commercial interests due to staffing issues, but we understand that many neuroscientists would like to have a list of commercial software tools, for example, that can be annotated and perhaps reviewed. Again, we encourage you to let us know what you need by providing feedback.

NIF places a high priority on resources that are recommended by their owners, so these resources are typically included in the NIF Registry relatively quickly. To recommend a resource, please visit our curation tool. All recommended resources are reviewed by NIF curators before they are included in the NIF Registry.

How are NIF Registry items tagged?

There is a process for curating NIF Registry resources. A description of each resource, beginning with a short descriptive overview (3 sentence max), followed by a longer more complete description, is copied from the Web site or written by the curation staff to let the end user know why that resource is useful. The resource is also assigned several keywords from the NIF vocabularies covering such things as:

  • Species (e.g., a clinical database would be labeled "human.")
  • Technique (e.g., microscopy type, assessment test, behavioral data, electrophysiology, etc.)
  • Structures covered (e.g., sub-cellular components, cells, brain regions, body structures, whole animals, etc.)
  • Functional level (e.g., embryonic, young, adult, aging.)
  • Disease (e.g., Parkinson’s disease, neurodegenerative disorder, Batten’s disease, etc.)
  • Topic covered (e.g., psychology, neurology, genomics, physiology, behavior.)

Additionally, the NIF Registry’s resources have been categorized by resource type. A resource type is the “product” that is offered. For example, MGI is a database of mouse genes and is labeled as a "database:" the Mutant Mouse Regional Resource Center accepts and distributes mutant mice and is labeled as a "organism repository;” and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research funds grants so it is labeled a "funding opportunity." All of the individual resource types currently fall into at least 1 of the 8 major categories below, and the user may search by these categories, or any of the subcategories:

  • Data Information or Knowledge Resource - A resource that provides information (non-realizable information entities), e.g., a data resource, a knowledge environment, or a narrative resource.
  • Educational Resource - A resource that provides training, educational opportunity, an educational event, or educational materials in a field that relates to neuroscience; e.g., a course, a workshop, a seminar, a video, a graduate program.
  • Software Resource: A resource that provides software or software functionality, including self-contained executable, software development support or libraries that are invoked by the user on local machines or remote servers. (Adapted from NITRC)
  • Material Resource: A resource that provides supplies or equipment such as reagents, instruments, tissue samples or organisms.
  • Funding Opportunities: A resource that provides funding opportunities in the form of grants or contracts.
  • Service Resource:  A resource that provides some type of service, e.g., making antibodies, storing data, computing services.
  • Employment Opportunities: A resource that provides listings of employment opportunities.
  • People Resource: A resource that provides information on individuals, such as expertise or affiliation.

A complete listing of the Resource Type hierarchy is available through NeuroLex.

Keywords and resource types will be treated in a special way by the NIF search systems allowing them to be ranked higher than other search results.

NIF Statistics



NIF Version: 6.0

Ontology Version: 2.9

Level 2.5/3.0 Resources: 219

Registry Entries: 6,461

Total Records: 399,667,461





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